Women, Men and Relations(hips) – or: “Men for Dessert”

drawing of two cupids, one shooting his arrow, one hugging a heart
Image freepik.com – licensed

The traditional, age old approach, not to say unwritten law, is this:

    • Woman is decorative, enticing, alluring and eventually going out of her way to please a man/men.
    • Men look at women and judge them (sometimes harshly) by their looks.
    • When somebody decides in this ‘game’, it’s the man, who takes the steps, makes the move.
    • The woman is supposed to show her utter delight with the fact that the man actually ‘deigns’ to take notice of her and perhaps even is willing to have sex or – God forbid – a relationship with her…
    • Behind it is the yet strong but older concept of women being dependent on men, for provision and – protection.

The idea that women live for themselves, depending on each other rather than men is even older, though.

This is another aspect of love and (power) relationships I have posted more than once about… a central subject in human art forms, apart perhaps from war…

Another not so pretty example is what can happen in business and has been even subject of major Hollywood feature movies such as “Disclosure”, 1994, starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas: The power relation traditionally being the man in power and the woman almost forced to have sex with him in order to stay safe, in place – or get promoted.
It’s been reversed for this movie – and at the time caused a heated discussion as to how realistic the movie was – or if it wasn’t rather making the story too voyeuristic to be of any real value…

I am personally lucky to never actually have been subject to such treatment.
Partly due to my personal preference I believe to choose rather than be chosen…

Yet, my heart goes out to all of those women who still for one reason or another feel compelled or even forced into relations – rather than relationships – because they fear to be alone; to be without a man; and be ultimately judged by that fact by the community or their surroundings.

Finally, one point I’d like to raise too is another craze I seem to have observed in the course of a rather long life:
The idea that as a woman, indeed a human being, you would naturally be inclined to have sex on any occasion presenting itself because in modern times we’ve learned it’s natural…? The more the better…?

I’d like to point out that there is ample proof of man (and woman) being in possession of what has been called a soul 😉 – as well as a body – and that a human body is more than the sum of its parts…
I am, simply put, for that equation:
Every man and woman ‘their way’ – as long as we are talking about consenting adults.

I like too, how it was put in that fine scene from the movie “Harry and Sally”, considered to be a classic these days:

Life’s Quintessentials…

I see and read and observe a lot and I heard about such people a long time ago: The bored, disoriented or even stricken with a heavy midlife crisis… Baz Lurhmann is not only an award-winning director of striking and unusual movies. He also at some point made this speech into a ‘sprechgesang’ (recitative), summarizing a lifetime’s experience regarding the really important things in life – for a young audience; which explains the point of view. And he’s got some points here….

I see people looking around for some kind of happiness, wondering if they missed out on something while pursuing a career; in the meantime perhaps looking for passion that is supposed to fulfill that void… or falling in love all the time because that seems to promise a sort of relieve from frustration or just plain boredom…

I am lucky in many respects: I was raised to the idea that there are morals and ethics and rules in the shape of laws we need for a large(r) community to work. But that regarding my own life it’s about taking responsibility – and know yourself and true needs better day by day. One adage being: “If you are bored it’s your own fault.”

Feeling fulfilled and happy is not a constant state of mind – or a life. But being content is.

Secret(s) of Love and Affection and Passion

Image of a blooming water lily on dark coloured leaves
Image courtesy pixabay.com – free license

Can I say anything definitive about it – when so many others seem to have failed? There’s romance to be considered – and jealousy, there’s loneliness that sometimes makes people rush into things; there’s fear of rejection, and heartbreak. The stories and plays, poems and songs that have been made are legion; I wonder if not the whole of mankind is seeped through and through with the eternal quest for love and passion and safety – and often in vain.

I always wondered why people are and behave the way they do. Why? Pain, especially. Why would people cause others pain on purpose? Revenge is also a subject in that sphere…when emotions or just pride are hurt and people start out on a hunt, as it were, to avenge themselves.

There are the archetypes that C.G. Jung, a successor of Sigmund Freud, defined: Symbols as figures, ideas of human types of behaviour, such as the bridesmaid, the bride, the damsel in distress and so on.

Many ideas we come in contact with are involved with the idea of love. The very basic longing for harmony and closeness with another human being that Erich Fromm called the need for overcoming the feeling of separateness (quoted from memory).

As most of us I have gone through some pain in that respect myself – as well as some joy.

There are patterns of human behaviour, male and female that you often find mirrored in (usually) cheap movies and stories: They ‘feed’ on those stereotypes and can be rather distracting, if you do not look beyond the images. For your own truth as well as of that of the other person.

Patterns of  power relationships are involved, deeply sometimes and most of it not consciously: In patriarchy the man is to be supposed to be always cool, calm, collected and ‘on top’ of the situation. That means that he may tend to look for a life partner slightly his inferior in education, upbringing, or income, in order to feel like a ‘real’ man.
Women in turn may easily tend to look for a ‘strong, superior’ man in order to fulfill those roles.
Sometimes these roles are a safe bet.

Sometimes they are not.

The basics I learned to be true too, by reading, observation and my own experience are these:

    • We tend to look for a partner who understands – us.
    • Passion may perhaps be easy to come by – if you are not too particular; some apparently get ‘sozzled’ with intake of substances to make that part easy. Some buy it.
    • Some wait for a long time to combine the ‘nature and nurture’, the experience and personal liking with a ‘soulmate’, in love and passion. My special regards to all of you people of like minds!

Whatever you do, remember these two ideas, to me they make the most sense of all:

In passion: All is fair as long as it is not done with children – and not by force. Consenting adults.

In love: “Whatever works.”

References:
Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving (Die Kunst des Liebens, German)
Alexander Lowen: Love, Sex and Your Heart (Liebe, Sex und Dein Herz, German)
Steve Biddulph: The Making of Love (Wie die Liebe bleibt, German)
Paul Watzlawick: The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness (Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein, German)
Gerti Senger: Alles Liebe (German)

A Snake or a Rope? – Perspective is Key

drawing of a manikin at a little clearing, looking at a speckled band moving
(Image courtesy giphy.com – public domain)

The image makes it as clear as daylight: What we see is what we think it to be. In many cases. But it’s not always clear right at first what it is we see, exactly.

So, one thing are the facts of the matter.

How we interpret them is the next step. Not only in regard to the actual being: Is it a snake in the grass – or just a bubbling brook?

In general: Appearances can be deceptive.

It is a wise man – or woman – who takes time for judgement. And checks their (assumed) facts before acting.

Of course, in simple cases – let’s say, asking yourself if that egg is really fresh – nothing much is needed to make sure. Yet, better to do so. Or the whole dish will go to waste.

But in terms of situations and people? How easy is it to be mistaken? And to be taken for something you aren’t?

The most tragic occurrences of such grave mistakes are miscarriages of justice. People sentenced to years of prison, yet proven innocent years or even decades later. Or sentenced to death and executed. The newspaper reports and movies on the subject run to hundreds if not thousands.

In everyday life just as well things can easily become tragic, if we are not careful with either our facts – or their interpretation.

So, next time around, check your perspective, your facts – and your sources.

Relativity and Perspective in Business – The Two World Views

London slum interior, 25th Nov. 1913, photo A. Goss (image in the public domain)

Uriah, with his long hands slowly twining over one another, made a ghastly writhe from the waist upwards, to express his concurrence in this estimation of me.

Uriah Heep is a character in Charles Dickens’ novel “David Copperfield”. I think he is one of the most disgusting persons as a character in a book you can think of. He is vile, scheming behind people’s backs – all the while pretending to be ‘humble’, submissive and grateful. In the story’s reality he is practically the opposite. He makes use of secrets to his own advantage, using blackmail to gain power over others. But in that story it takes almost a decade until his true character and his deeds are known – and redeemed.

Although in English literature many of Dickens’ novels are counted among the romances to some extent due to the highly emotional parts – they are very realistic in the depiction of living conditions in the first half of the 19th century. The extreme poverty and starvation that included dreadful living conditions in London slums are the locations Dickens’ uses for famous and most influential stories such as “Great Expectations”, “David Copperfield” or “Oliver Twist”. Dickens was a wonderful master of the language, of dramatic point and counterpoint – and the plot as such, clear, including dramatic twists and turns as well as a true feeling for the unfortunate that make his books great examples of the rising civil societies’ best values: Empathy and social security as well as justice.

I was raised on firm principles: I do not believe that business and its representatives are the ruling powers of this world. So many people writhe and grovel for the sake of a favour, even if only inwardly, of a job, their character becoming so warped and twisted that its original quality becomes invisible. It’s sad to watch when you meet them.

I was raised to the idea that trade unions had been created for a reason. That every human being as such is what is called ‘a small universe’ in some contexts. That the capital in the hands of the few will not stay there or be ‘multiplied’ if the many ‘little people’ do not work for that.

Additionally, I was raised on an explicit work ethic: And an understanding of the many connections as well as relations that make human life what it is – and that make it necessary and desirable in a reasonably sensible business to do the best in my ability to make that business thrive – and keep mine as well as others’ jobs – to an advantage.

My approach is not always clear and easy to everyone around I know. There are still parts of this world where the belief in the ultimate authority of anyone superior in a hierarchy make it crucial to be subdued, even servile, in everyday behaviour. Anyone deviating from that kind of behaviour may be subjected to suspicions of disloyalty.

For me these two views are worlds apart:

    • Be ‘a humble servant’. Or

    • be a proud, self-contained and yet reliable employee and/or colleague in an honourable trade.

 

Why One Size Does NOT Fit All – or: The 32-Size Shoe

three people legs and shoes visible sitting on edge of car trunk
I see it happen all the time: People look at someone and with almost deathly certainty they ‘diagnose’ their (apparent) problem – and also have a solution ready right away. Strangely enough such people almost never are doctors themselves.
Because good doctors know that one size does not fit all.

A person appearing slightly ‘overweight’ – by today’s public standards – of course just must be in need of a new and completely changed sports and dieting plan.

A person who likes their home, sometimes stays there for a certain amount of time at a stretch just cannot possibly be happy – or healthy, for that matter – unless a new plan of being out in the open is devised and put into action.

What such ‘diagnosers’ usually ignore completely is the fact that really and truly one size does not fit all.
That is true for health, food and sports alike.

A famous food chemist put it along these lines one day :

Many such rules about what is best for you or your health are made and conducted based on the following principle:
They look at who has the healthiest feet, find that those with healthy feet wear 32-size shoes* – and thereafter prescribe them for everyone.
But would you wear them if you happened to have a 43-size foot?

And there is also something else to consider: What motives do such reformers have, trying to make everyone the same….?

Even the bible has a fine saying on it:

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew, 7.1)

Perhaps it ‘behoves’ all of us to be a little more careful before ‘diagnosing’ a person by a very few symptoms alone – where there may be no problem at all in the first place – and without knowing the whole story or history.

 

___
*) European sizes

‘Glamour’? – Inside.

image of woman practicing yoga with rising sun behind her

Money seems similar to power: It corrupts… sometimes. I think the basic principle is the same as in other parts of life:
it depends on the perspective, on how you look at it.

Someone put it very nicely with these few words:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

For some of those that read my blog, this is not news.
But I feel this to be an essential part of human life, indeed mankind and its history depend to a great extent on money and what it represents or means to different kinds of people.

Basic Concepts

The most important concepts in regard to money to me are: power, appreciation, wealth (and what it can buy as regards luxury).
Dignity.

Appreciation and Dignity

Appreciation as well as dignity go together in this context: Many people exist who will accept and even admire someone who’s got lots of money.

In turn that person feels respected and draws on this apparent respect for their sense of self-esteem. And the term that is closely connected, even a synonym, is the idea of dignity.

Dignity

The idea deserves a closer look: Dignity is the sense of any person they can have of themselves as being ‘respectable’ and ‘good’, therefore respected and part of the community around them.
And so, if dignity is forfeit, or seems to be, some people can react extremely aggressive and even cruelly towards those they hold responsible for that loss.

Find Distinctions

I would like to differentiate more, to ultimately make independence easier: We may be dependent to some extent on others, for money, for respect and thus simply their support.
But the dignity we retain always also depends on how we look at ourselves.

Money and Dignity?

If we connect these two ideas in a direct relation, namely: ‘money equals dignity’ and then at the first hint of losing money are convinced we’ve lost our dignity in the eyes of the world, this will be true.

Independence in Your Mind and Your Being

Again:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

As long as you believe that money equals dignity, this will be true.

This is another way of saying that there are always two sides to this coin:
What others think about us.
What we think about ourselves.

And if we find others to be right in this view, this perspective on us, then they will gain power over our thoughts, our reactions and ultimately we may lose our free will.

Money and Values

Self-respect or self-esteem are crucial for being aware of eternal values and living them. And the sense of our dignity translates into these two.

So, to become truly independent of all the dark sides of the want of appreciation or self-respect or dignity, such as greed, cruelty and selfishness, find out about the dignity inside.

Dignity Inside

So, I encourage again, once more, all who read this:
Look carefully into your heart – and find the dignity and appreciation in there, the part that is not dependent on anything the outside world could ever believe.
If you can do that, no one will ever ‘mess with your head’, they will not have power over you, because you have it over yourself. First and last.

Work, Life and Chance – Backgammon: The Game of Princes

Iran, Esfahan (Isfahan) – Ali Qapu Palace

“Your life’s whatever you make of it.” That’s a popular phrase meant to bolster confidence – or even motivate employees… Well, there’s more to life than meets the eye at a glance. Anyone who’s gone through life longer than just a couple of decades has come to realize what Baz Luhrman so aptly said:
“Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.”

Many smart comedians, philosophers and coaches will tell you that. It is actually a wise person who realizes it – it has been known for centuries if not thousands of years among people, mankind even.

There was a ‘modern’ urge when the civil society began to form that found one outlet in the possibility to emigrate to the USA, then dominions still. With a huge country apparently all there just to find your luck without any shackles or strings attached, the credo was: “Your life’s whatever you make of it.”

Was it, really?

Even the first settlers faced grave challenges, partly from indigenous peoples who wouldn’t all easily accept that land-taking by strangers. Bluntly put.

Additionally, so few conditions known, many pioneers just died from starvation due to completely different climate and soil conditions.

Yet, marketing and people who wanted to sell this idea and self-promoting methods as new ways to happiness and self-made wealth just persisted publishing self-help guides.

The idea of course is appealing. But in the long run it will lead to anger and frustration, because it leaves out all those chances life presents us all with: Recently we were all witnesses to it again on a huge scale, a pandemic, with millions of deaths.

We were lucky too, in many ways, in many parts of the world. But the long and the short of it is this:

Life is full of chances and conditions and surroundings that will make it easy or difficult to reach goals you wished to attain.

Sometimes, just knowing there is a philosophy behind it, summarized like this, can help:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Here is a fine short documentary on the game of Backgammon and its vital difference to chess: Chess is like war. But Backgammon is like life: And it is thousands of years old. It was even used to teach princes at the ancient courts of Persian kings to be sophisticated and wise leaders of their governments.

We cannot control everything in life. A lot depends on luck and surroundings. But we can always try to do our best in any given situation.

It’s a German language version with English subtitles:

A Veritable Credo

image of lighthouse and a rock on seashore
The basics…? Food, dry shelter and clothes. Beyond that? Humans need company to feel accepted. To feel as part of a whole.

To get beyond acceptance and beyond the basics many people are prepared to do almost anything. Attention which is equalled with special acceptance is at the centre, often half-conscious. Depending on the culture, wealth may be put at the top of the list.

The bucket list?

To me, life can be full of pain, cruelty and suffering. In order to make life bearable or even wonderful, we would want to avoid pain for others and for ourselves.

Any wise book in this world you may want to try will put it in so many words. Philosophers as well as business reckonings as well as the great books of the four biggest world religions contain these elements in principle:

Life can be dreadful and it can be wonderful. We, as grown-up human beings are largely responsible for what we do and how we treat others on life’s journey.

We can see it as one big race. But, as Baz Luhrmann put it so wisely, “the race is long but in the end it’s only with yourself.”

There are times when some people wonder what to do, what to put at their list’s top.

In that case I would like to put it this way: All four religions and their central books/scrolls have their strengths and weaknesses, some parts of them having been discussed for centuries.

But, in order to live together in this world that depends on us being smart and compassionate and remember our ancestor’s ways of honouring nature – the human rights of the United Nations can be considered the best possible foundation, a rock of truth as it were, to measure everything else by – and with.

Your yardstick.

After that, the basics. And laughter, kindness and joy shared. Love.

Fashion or Favourite – The Blindness of Prejudice

image of workers in a foundry at the melting furnace
Courtesy freepik.com – Licensed image

Fashion can be truly deadly in a sense: When it becomes a cast, an iron mold to surround us like a cage. It can enclose the mind. It can enclose the body, because certain expectations as regards clothing, movements and even personal behaviour lead us to shun personal character. Like a cage – making all the same…

I’ve posted similarly before. The subject presents itself over and over again. These days it seems to be even more pronounced when the life of such a formidable figure as the late Queen Elizabeth II of England is being reviewed.

She was a queen of the first water: Although not originally ‘born to be queen’, since the abdication of her uncle only made her own father king in the 1930s when she was eleven, she was raised to a high sense of duty and faithfulness to her country and the idea of monarchy as such. From my point of view I would call it the sense of providing guidance and present an example.

Being an example and that in the eyes of the public to boot, is awe-inspiring, at least. It can also be challenging or even prove frightful. To be watched all your life by often rather critical, not to say strict eyes, is no child’s play.

Yes, she is among the richest people in the world and the richest in England, if I remember correctly. But try imagining to be under ‘observation’ morning, noon and night, every day of your life – and have any false step commented on or even ridiculed: Many have been known to flee from that kind of duty, before. She delivered it with amazing self-control and apparent ease all her long life.

Yet, it seems to me that fashion these days works very similarly in everybody’s life, in these ‘modern’ digital times: More than in previous decades?

The fashion that women and men should behave just as so many actors in modern TV-series: be clothed that way, behave that way, cool, calm and always ‘true to form’: To me that is a pity; anyone who deviates from that ‘form’, that ‘mold’, the iron cast of fashion, will be subject to numerous misconstructions and misrepresentations – just because ‘fashion’ demands otherwise.

I plea the cause of diversity in every sense: Let’s not judge prematurely just because now and again people do actually not fit – and are different – or just show personal character.